The Societal Impact of the World Wide Web - Key Challenges for the 21st Century

The Societal Impact of the World Wide Web - Key Challenges for the 21st Century

Janice M. Burn (Edith Cowan University, Australia) and K.aren D. Loch (Georgia State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-930708-11-2.ch002
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Abstract

In the first section we document the current state of information technology diffusion and connectivity, and related factors such as GDP, population density, and cultural attitudes. The second section examines more fully the question of who comprises the “haves” and the “have-nots” so frequently mentioned. Across and within country comparisons are made, noting in particular disadvantaged groups, urban vs. rural communities, and women and children as groups that are frequently forgotten, but who are vital to true transformation to a global information society. The third section offers some concrete suggestions as to how the Internet may be used to address the growing gap between those who have and those who don’t. We report some country examples which illustrate both the progress and the magnitude of the challenge as societies, governments, and other key change agents attempt to redress the problem. Finally, we make two observations. One is that for those who don’t have, there is little demand to have, as well. This is in large part explained by the second observation, which is that a multilevel complex challenge must be overcome in order to leverage technology-based services, such as offered by the Internet, as a sociological tool to reduce economic disparity. We challenge the reader to look inward for each one’s individual responsibility in this big picture.

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